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Letter to the UN secretary general on Myanmar and China

03 June 2008

Your Excellency,

Greetings from the World Council of Churches.

I am writing in order to convey to you our deep appreciation and gratitude for your tireless efforts and leadership in helping to solve the humanitarian crises in Myanmar arising in various parts of that country as the result of the recent disastrous cyclone Nargis. It was with a great sense of satisfaction that we received news of the agreement reached during your visit to Myanmar between you and the head of the military government, General Than Shwe. We are hopeful that this paves the way to allow foreign relief workers to operate in the worst affected areas, irrespective of their nationalities.

Your Excellency, the courage and commitment you have demonstrated in negotiating with the ruling military leadership of Myanmar and the promise of an immediate positive outcome as a result of the agreement, is a life-saving breakthrough for thousands of people in the areas devastated by the cyclone. You put the situation into perspective during your visit when you told the people of Myanmar that "we work hard in our lives for ourselves and our families and then in a moment, it is gone." You continued with words of encouragement: "I'm humbled, humbled by the scale of this natural disaster, the worst your country has ever experienced, and humbled by the courage and resilience of the Myanmar people." Your words, your physical presence and your success in negotiating with the regime have provided a great consolation for millions of people who have been mourning and suffering such enormous loss.

Your Excellency, I would also like to express my deep appreciation for your expression of solidarity in visiting earthquake-stricken Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China. In fact, your visits to Myanmar and China will be not only a consolation for the people in these affected countries; it also enhances the morale of the international community as we join with all those trying to find the way forward to save lives and prevent further hardship.

For your information, Your Excellency, let me share with you that ever since the news about the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China were reported, we in the World Council of Churches (WCC) have been in touch with our friends and colleagues in both countries and have joined them along with WCC members all over the world in prayer. The emergency relief and humanitarian aid arm of the WCC, Action By Churches Together (ACT), which is based in Geneva, have mobilized its members in various countries to assist people in both Myanmar and China. We will continue to be engaged in a long-term response and process of joining hands with many others who are extending relief and rehabilitation assistance.

Once again, we offer our appreciation and thanks for your leadership and timely intervention.


Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches